This page contains Supreme Court rulings -- with summaries of the majority and minority conclusions.
Decided Jun 23, 2011
Case Ruling: CSX TRANSPORTATION v. MCBRIDE
A railroad employee complained that the configuration of locomotives he had been assigned was unsafe because it required excessive use of an independent handbrake. Told to run the configuration as it was, the engineer after 10 hours of work injured his hand while using the handbrake. He never recovered full use of his hand and sued the railroad under the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA).
HELD: Proximate cause not needed in railroad employee injury suitDelivered by Ginsburg; joined by Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan & ThomasRecognizing the hazards of railroading, Congress enacted FELA in 1910. It allowed injured employees to recover "for injury resulting from negligence" of the railroad. By using this language, Congress intended to substitute for common law "proximate cause" a standard that any negligence by the railroad, however slight, that caused injury to an employee would lead to railroad liability for the injury.
Congress dispensed with examination of whether the railroad's negligence was the "direct" or "probable" cause of the injury. If any injury is forseeable, and the railroad negligent in preventing it, FELA allowed damages even if the particular injury is not forseeable. FELA's wording, Supreme Court precedent, and 50 years of Court of Appeals decisions following this precedent lead to this conclusion.
DISSENT: Congress did not disavow proximate cause in worker RR suitsFiled by Roberts; joined by Scalia, Kennedy, and AlitoProximate cause has long been a requirement in tort law. When enacting FELA, Congress expressly disavowed four other common law standards of tort law; The Court therefore has no basis to find that Congress intended to do away with proximate cause in FELA cases by implication. The Court misinterprets the Court's precedent and provides a standard for FELA cases lacking in guidance to courts and allowing unpredictable recoveries.
- Topic: Corporations
- Headline: Ok to sue for corporate direct OR indirect negligence
- Headline 2: Can only sue for direct results of corporate negligence
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participating in 11-MCBRIDE
Total recorded by OnTheIssues: